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Check out our useful hints and tips articles to help you get the best out of your garden.

Getting a pest-free garden in a few easy steps

Rat on a bird feeder. Photograph by Graham Soult

If you spend a lot of time in the garden, or have spent a small fortune sprucing it up for parties and relaxing days, you don't want to have to cope with a pest invasion.

Did you know that, in London, more than 100 rodent complaints are made every day? However, a few quick and simple preparations can stop potential pests from calling your garden home.

Arbordeck, a leading UK provider of composite decking boards, is here to explain how you can use simple techniques to safeguard your garden.

Tackling your pest issue with humane traps

Scent repellants are simple but effective - ideal if you have a small rodent problem that you want to handle humanely. Rodents detest the smell of garlic, peppermint and hot spices, which means that planting a peppermint tree around the edges of your decking or sprinkling cayenne around potential entry points can deter vermin from nesting. Of course, there are also plenty of commercial rat and mice repellents you can buy that will work to keep pests at bay.

Of course, there are always non-lethal traps available in stores and online. A trick is to use something sweet, not cheese, to lure mice! Place these around your decking and make sure to release the rodent at least one mile from your home once caught. If you prefer, buy an ultrasonic pest repellent. Compact and discreet, these devices are ideal for placing by your decking and emit high-frequency sound waves that rodents can't stand - and we can't hear.

Under your decking: how to stop critters making a home

If you think about it, pests only want food and shelter - and the former is much easier to sort out. Don't leave your leftovers and rubbish outside for pests to enjoy, and make sure rubbish and refuse bags are tied tightly and placed inside a bin with the lid shut. Clean your decking after all parties so that no sauces or dropped food remain which could entice rodents and other critters. Remember; rats, mice and hedgehogs will also eat birdfeed, so make sure to opt for a birdfeeder that isn't placed on the floor or a table and put it away from your decking.

Safeguarding wood from an infestation

Then again, your pest problem might not be rodents or birds. In the UK, woodworm is also a large pest issue that anyone with decking or wood furniture should be aware of. The common furniture beetle is usually what people mean when they say 'woodworm', but the house longhorn and deathwatch beetles are far more destructive - although thankfully rarer.

The first step to protecting your garden spaces from woodworm is to keep outdoor wood as dry as possible. This might be difficult for large areas like your decking, but your tables and chairs should be relatively safe under a waterproof cover. Sealing your wood with varnish is a good shout, too. This creates a barrier that prevents female wood-boring beetles from laying eggs in the pores of the wood.

If you notice a woodworm infestation early enough, you should be able to sort it out relatively easily and cheaply. How do you spot an infestation? If you can see small holes across your decking and furnishings - these are usually in a cluster and often about 1mm wide - there might be woodworm present. Although this is treatable, you first need to identify which type of woodworm is doing the damage, so it might be worth seeking professional advice. Common furniture beetle problems can be treated yourself using products that you can buy online. However, if the culprits are house longhorn or deathwatch beetles, you may need to treat by injection.

How to deter unwanted animals from making a home underneath your decking

As we mentioned earlier, food and shelter are the main reasons a pest will make a home in your garden. So, you need to work on making the gap underneath your decking as impenetrable as possible. Pests won't be able to make a home under your decked areas if they can't enter to begin with, so investing in extra materials to create a barrier is worth it.

All you need is a few tools and some cheap equipment to create a barrier around your decking. Use wood, mesh or chicken wire and run it along the entire edge of your decking between the boards and the ground. If you're worried that this will ruin your decking's aesthetic appeal, you can install a wooden trellis and have the mesh running behind it. Then, arrange potted plants or flowerbeds around your decking to mask the mesh further.

Now that your decking is secure, glance around your garden to try and sport other areas that an unwanted critter might like to call home. Hedgerows and bushes are great for bearing the brunt of a storm and hiding small animals from predators. Trim these as far back as possible to decrease the range of shelter for potential pests, and make sure any grassy areas are cut regularly. If your main pest problem is birds, movement is a great deterrent. Try hanging something that moves - like a wind chime or wind spinner - to help prevent birds from making a mess on your decking.

Safeguarding your garden in 2018 is simple if you have a few techniques and methods to make it uninviting and impenetrable to pests.


Photo credit: Graham Soult

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